Nissan 2WD SUV.

SUV are breeding like rabbits and new models roll out of the factories in ever increasing numbers. Unlike the Johnny-cum-latelies, Nissan was among the first to have a proper hairy chested off-roader on offer. Do you remember the Nissan Patrol?

Although the X-trail is much smaller, it has proved itself popular and capable. The whole point of an SUV is the ability to throw your gear in the back, your hunny in the front, and Thelma and Louise yourselves into a frenzy. You might be into water sports, or perhaps camping floats your boat. I am personally very fond of a long weekend away sipping 100 different wines with little bits of bread and and some those smoked salmony nibbly things.

Before we head off on our adventure lets have a sniff around the exterior. It’s not a bad shape after all there isn’t that much to be done with your basic two box shape. It’s vaguely reminiscent of a Land rover discovery and a previous gen Honda CRV. Some of your may have seen the dishy Bear Grylls flogging the X-trail on the tellie of late. He brings a bit of machismo hard won in these days of rough and tumble dog-eat-dog motoring. The auto makers try hard to get you into their product so they put tasteful touches to attract the bower bird in us all. We have a decent set of alloys, big useful headlights and rugged door handles to name but a few. The front styling doesn’t grab me and the exterior feels just a little old fashioned. It’s not unpleasant but it gives you the feeling you have seen it all before.



Inside is quite nice. You have the usual touches we all expect such as Satnav (in top models only), Bluetooth and ipod dock but no Bluetooth streaming in most models. The dials are neat and tidy and the switches easy to find and use. Nissan menus generally are very simple, some may say basic but once you get the hang of it all the function is flawless.


4wd versions only


The real surprise to me was the seats. The photos don’t do them justice. They look like your bog-standard car seats but I have to tell you that assumption is dead wrong. It’s more like a comfy lounge chair than a hard as nails cars seats. There is support of course, but the softness transported me back to a time when comfort was more important than anything time itself. In cars of old you felt cocooned and you sat in the chair rather than on it. The X-trail has that same feeling of cossetted luxury. Suddenly you view things just a little differently. You feel slightly regal and perhaps just a bit smug. You sit quite high so there is plenty of scope for looking down on the minions squeezed into to their budget Korean hatches. I feel they would be fabulous on a long trip.

The Infotainment system is fine. It’s not heart thumping by any means but it’s all there at your fingertips as are the driver controls. Pair your Bluetooth phone and bobs-your-uncle. As in most of the cars I drive, making calls from the car can be a bit of a handful and I usually resort to using the voice dial in the iPhone then letting the car take over the call.

Our car rather amazingly is the 2 Wheel Drive version. I hear you asking why in the hell a car maker a 2WD version of a successful 4WD SUV. There are many reasons, cost, fuel economy and weight to name but a few. The only real gripe I have about the car is the god awful CVT transmission. I don’t like them in any car. If you do anything other than drive like Miss Daisy, the car screams its head off at the same revs as the car speeds up. It’s really quite unspeakable and I thought I’d get used to it, but I didn’t. I’d opt for a manual. All CVT’s should be consigned to the dustbin of automotive history. Until then they are ghastly so don’t bother.

There is plenty of get up go from the 2.0L 4 cylinder (102kw) and the fuel consumption was ok for a car this size and shape. After all, no SUV is going to win an award to aerodynamics anytime soon. The drive is what I would describe as pleasant, CVT notwithstanding. There is a bit of understeer if you get jiggy-wit-it but your electronic nannies sort that out in a thrice. The ride is firm but the nastier bumpity-bumps are ironed out PDQ.

Now, the adventurous among you are going to be throwing all that manly water sports gear into the back so the surfaces are appropriately covered. There are also clever slide out drawers and cubby holes galore for knickknacks that won’t go elsewhere.

Over all it’s not too shabby with a decent drive and the keyless entry and start to be a welcome and thoughtful inclusion.













*from $27,990 to $46,940